The Challenges of E-Discovery in Business Litigation

Business LitigationWe represent clients in need of business litigation services and regularly find that preparing for trial can be one of the most cumbersome tasks that management has to participate in.  Trial preparation used to be more simplistic with witness testimony and the gatheingr of evidence.  With the digital age, the landscape has changed and e-discovery is making preparation more time-consuming.

Big data has changed the landscape, and each business and employee has a large digital footprint that can often be reviewed as part of litigation.  Electronically stored files, emails, chats, and information can all be used as part of litigation whether for your defense or because the other side requested a subpoena for it.  With that in mind, we advise businesses to create a plan for how to store, sort, and retrieve data in a cost effective way prior to ever engaging in litigation.  If it’s too late and a lawsuit has already been filed, here are some ways to retrieve what you need.

  • Email.  Most IT departments will keep copies of emails and back them up on a continuous basis.  Speak with your IT department to see if this is the case.  If you are using a cloud based system this can also be helpful as it is easy to login and view emails in an inbox and in the trash.  The key is finding the emails that you need.  In business litigation, there may be that one email that proves your case.  When looking for it, consider any keyword that may have been used in the title or body of the email.  You can also search by name or date though this requires having specific knowledge of the incident.
  • Cloud storage.  If your company is using cloud based storage like Google docs, it can be easier to store documents, keep a record of them and access the documents at any time.  Your IT department should have a copy of each employee’s password or administrative access to get into both emails and the cloud document storage at any time.  This is essential for ensuring that documents can easily be found when you need them to be.  Even documents that are private should be shared with someone in the IT department. This can help you in the event that an employee is let go and then sues you.  The IT department can then access their files and determine if anything is there that can confirm your version of the events and your case.

As your attorney, we will discuss what information is needed to help build your case so that you can speak to the IT department about how to retrieve it.  If, on the other hand, you are being asked to produce documents for the other side, we must consider whether it is an appropriate request and if it puts your business in jeopardy. For example, if someone in your organization signed a confidentiality agreement with a client and you are being asked to produce email documents that are tied to their account, you could be in violation of that agreement by turning them over.  With that in mind, we will need to carefully review any requests for document production and e-discovery to ensure that by complying you do not violate any other standing agreements while engaged in business litigation.